Quantity over quality

Quantity over quality

Instagram has become a ten ton gorilla for photographers. It's the place to be. This is where you share your works and connect with other artists. And where you find the models' sedcards. But something stinks! And to prove it, I tested it out on my own instagram account.


My test was not made to fool you. I basically came up with it, because due to the pandemic, I was almost unable to produce new works in the last year. This sound shocking and it is. We live in the age of information overload. When you don't have things to post, noone remembers you and you become an uninteresting person on instagram (and social media in general).

The algorithms that create the feeds take into account how relevant someone is. The frequency of posting is of importance.

As I had nothing new to show, I went through all of my outtakes. Photos that have not been chosen to get published. Those are the images that were less good than others, so they landed in the trash.

Not this time. I did one simple thing to recycle them: In Photoshop I chose Select Subject to automatically isolate the model from the background with one click (no corrections made by me) and then placed it on another random background (which I had photographed myself, too).

Original image of Ariel
A photo from inside the botanical garden
The resulting montage

I did not care much about the lighting or whether the image looked real. I simply ran a filter over the shot to reduce the contrast and adjust the brightness. Then I uploaded the composite image to my instagram and put a stupid caption underneath. Boom, I received likes, comments and new followers within seconds.

We are reflexively clicking on the like button.

This weird image did perform just as good as my usual images. Like the good ones. This is something I had not expected. At least, I would have hoped, someone commented "It looks shopped". But nothing happened. People even asked me, how I received a permission to photograph in the botanical garden of Frankfurt. Come on, a girl styled with garters and stockings in a botanical garden? This is not my style at all. But noone bothered.

Mia in the dunes

After my first upload of such a bad photograph, I decided to repeat this two more times, just to make sure, it really works. And it did. I took a photo from my book Frisky and placed it on a different background. It looks off in terms of lighting and color grading, even in perspective and scale. But noone cared.

Another cheesy composite image
Quality is not important on social media. Quantity matters.

What does this mean?

My uploads clearly prove that on instagram and social media in general, it's not about quality. It's only about quantity! As an artist, this hurts to see. We consume images like fast food without chewing. The brain cells are not even turned on when scrolling through a feed. This feels devastating, the more you think about it. Doesn't it?

I would like to say sorry for fooling you with my experiment on instagram.

I strongly advice everyone to think twice before hitting the like button. And to think about what you are actually seeing. Please be aware that most of the content you see is stuff that you see, because a feed gets updated often. Because there's a lot of quantity on that feed. Quality is not a measure in the algorithm of instagram (or other social media).